Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Odds & Ends on a Tuesday

Let's chat, shall we? One, can you believe February is almost gone? Which means March is almost here, which is bringing two fun events for me: the IN SCBWI conference, and my son's 3rd birthday party.

I've been hanging onto a Kohl's gift card to buy new clothes for the conference. I love having new stuff to wear to something I've been anticipating attending. Also, you know what else I'm really looking forward to at the conference (besides hanging out with writing people)? This is going to sound really dumb but...toast. Yup. Breakfast.

Last year I had the breakfast buffet, but nothing looked that good (excitable nerves maybe?) even though they had waffles and pastries and all kinds of stuff. I just ended up eating some toast and jelly, and it was yummy. So I can't wait to wake up Sat (at the crack of dawn, from what the conference schedule looks like) and get me a Diet Coke and toast.

But back to the clothes. Here's a light sweater I'm thinking of ordering online through Kohl's. I'm just waiting to see if they have any special promos this weekend I can use to save a few bucks.

As for the birthday party, it has been established that the theme will be robots. Or, as the kidlet says, 'bobots'. I'm having fun planning the colors, and the menu, and how the table will be set up. After reading and writing, party planning is my favorite thing to do. I'm also planning on getting some ice cream from Baskin Robbins to go with the cake I'm making. I LOVE Baskin Robbin's ice cream, it's the BEST.

How about you all? Anything you're looking forward to in the coming months? Like spring? =)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jackaby Inspiration

I read Jackaby at the beginning of this year and really, really liked it. It was a very atmospheric book, with such enjoyable characters. And I am so in love with this cover and became even more so when I realized the picture 'inside' of Jackaby is one that I've saved myself for inspiration when I was writing my YA historical fantasy, Liberty or Death. {It's of a different view; multiple pics of this street in Boston can be found online. So gorgeous.}

One of Jackaby's main characters (Jackaby) is touted as a mix between Sherlock Homes and Dr. Who. I know nothing about the good doctor, but being familiar w/Sherlock Holmes, could see how this fit. Jackaby was a genius and clueless, and terribly funny for the combination of the two. I also really clicked with Abagail Rook, whose POV the book is told from. 

I loved her, because she's resourceful and kind, and she also likes dinosaurs, like me. 

"My previous and only real prior job experience had come from foolishly following an advertisement with bold, capitalized words like EXCITING OPPORTUNITY, and CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, and, probably most effective in capturing my naive attention, DINOSAURS."

Yup, that would totally suck me in too. So for fun, I've hunted down a few pics that I feel could represent elements out of Jackaby. {Disclaimer: I freely admit that all of these came from Kami Garcia's Writing Inspiration board on Pinterest. I just can't work that site very well. When I try to search for cool images, all I get are bland generic ones. Like 'girls in long dresses' and I get fashion models on a runway, not all the neat images I see everyone else pinning of girls in fields with stormy skies and flocks of birds overhead. Anyone have good tips on this dilemma? What am I doing wrong?! End of disclaimer.}

"I excused myself to go see a duck about a dress."

The above is my favorite line in the whole book. It's so absurd...and yet absolutely true. If you like novels set back in time with paranormal elements and witty repartee, you should totally give Jackaby a try! 


“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

* * *

Here is Jackaby on Goodreads, and also its sequel, Beastly Bones-- which sounds ah-ma-zing!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What Kind of Blogger Are You?

I have labeled myself as a 'fluff' blogger. I very rarely write serious posts where something weighty is discussed. I am all about entertainment and fun(hopefully...). I try to write the sort of posts that I love to come across: fun bookish posts(like dressing a character out of a book: I plan on doing that at some point), recaps of writing events, pics of office spaces/bookshelves, and of course, interviews and guest posts, where no where is this question asked: 'Where do you get your ideas?' (ugh). 

I am also a HUGE fan of posts where I get a glimpse into people's every day life. I will freely admit I am nosey. If you have a pic of you, say, in your living room, I am doing my best to check out the pillows on your couch and your various knick-knacks. 

And I enjoy doing more personal posts as well, though I always try to bring in some aspect of books, reading, or writing(BRW). Call it a strange idiosyncrasy of mine, but since this blog is supposed to be about those things, it would make my skin itch to post about something that doesn't have ties to BRW at all. Of course, now that I have said this, I'll get an itch tomorrow to write about boot socks or pizza or something.
You will never see this blog turn into one that offers tips and tricks on writing. Mainly because I'm still trying to figure out all of those. But with that said, I don't purposely go out and seek blogs that focus on the craft of writing. Why? Because they bore the snizzle out of me. As soon as I start reading a post about characterization or world building, my brain's like, 'Where's the exit?'  (Alas, I realize this makes me sound like an uneducated noobie, but it is what it is. Though I think it's also b/c I'm a learn-it-as-I-go-along type of person. You can tell me how to do something all day long, but until I'm actually in the thick of it, I won't have a clue as to what the heck I'm doing.) 

So what kind of blogs do you all enjoy the most? Do you look for more weighty reading, or like me, do you go more for the fluff? Or do you look for a balance? Also, marshmallow fluff is delicious. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Talking About Love and Cupcakes

1. In LOVE AND CUPCAKES, the men in Graham's family are known for finding their soul mate with a touch. I love this aspect of the novel, and I also love that you've given this ability to a male, rather than a female. Especially since soul mate seems more like a 'girly' term. Did it automatically come to you this way? 

Aww, thank you! It’s one of my favorite things about Graham. Though it wasn’t part of his original backstory! In the early drafts of the book, this legend did not exist. Then an agent I had submitted it to told me that I needed to add more magic to the book overall. I brainstormed a number of ideas, but I loved what this legend of soul mates could do for Graham and Jack, both from a frustration standpoint (because let’s face it, there is a lot of back and forth with these two!) as well as working toward their happily-ever-after. It also helped create some needed tension with Graham’s dad, who was mentioned but not seen in previous versions. So, while it wasn’t an automatic part of the story from the start, it is definitely one of the most important ideas I had with this book.

2. Sibling relationships are a big part of L&C. Do you have siblings?

Yes, they are. I think siblings (and family in general) have such an impact on how a person grows. I have an older sister, who is two years older than me, and a stepbrother, who is seven years older. My sister, Karen, and I were not friends when we were young, and really didn’t want to be. Then Karen met Aria in tenth grade and Aria forced us to get along. Now we’re very close and enjoy being sister and friends. (Yes, I named a character after my sister’s high school best friend for that very reason!) There is a lot of both of us in Jack and Harper, though neither of us is strictly either one.

3. So it goes without saying that food is a big part of L&C. The cupcakes all sounded so scrumptious (I've never tried a peanut butter cupcake, and totally want to now)! Do you have a culinary background? If not, you could've fooled me!

I don’t! My mom baked a ton when I was little—my childhood was defined by fresh sourdough bread and blueberry muffins—and my grandparents cooked/baked all the time too, so baking is a definite happy place for me. But (and I hate to admit this!) at home my husband does all the cooking. I can follow a recipe and make something turn out pretty damn tasty, but he can just throw whatever we have into a pan and make amazing meals. It’s one of the things I really wish I could do, so I tend to give those traits to my characters.

4. Jack is catering Twilight- a bike ride which takes place at nighttime. Is this an invention of yours, or do biking competitions such as this take place?

I wish I could take credit for this, but I stole this from Athens, Georgia. When I was researching bicycling I came across this event (The Athens Twilight Criterium) and thought it was such a cool thing. (I think there was also a night-time bike race inGilmore Girls at one point too!) But there are a number of these races around the country. I’m not a biker, but I really want to go see one of these races at some point because it just seems like fun.

5. The town of Sugar-- the setting for L&C-- felt very cozy. I'd like to walk the downtown district and eat a burger at Blue Plate-- and, of course, stop by Crumbs for dessert. Did you base Sugar off of a real place?

When I first started writing LOVE AND CUPCAKES, it was set in Athens, partly because of the bike race and partly because a friend had recently moved back there. It is such a fun, quirky, artsy town, which is exactly what I wanted. But then I realized I wanted to have more control over the setting so I changed the name and took as many liberties as I wanted to make the town unique.

* * * 

Susan Bishop Crispell is not one of those writers who's been scribbling down stories since she could hold a pencil. She didn't read constantly growing up (blasphemy!), and she can still be found in public without a book tucked into her purse (again with the blasphemy!).

She is, however, the kind of writer who lives for the imaginative spark that introduces her to a new character or story idea that pushes her to turn everyday life into something magical.

Susan lives and writes near Wilmington, NC with her husband and two cats.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Here are some more awesome graphics for your viewing and reading pleasure. And, on Susan's Pinterest page, under the Love and Cupcakes board, there are lots of delicious cupcake recipes...

For Jaclyn “Jack” Pace, sensing what sweets people crave is as easy as breathing. But it’s not enough to keep her cupcake bakery in the black. So, when her estranged sister Harper comes back to town with an affinity for making art out of icing—and a past full of secrets—she reluctantly gives Harper a job and a place to crash.

As their relationship begins to thaw, the one with her business partner Graham starts to heat up. Given the legend that says Hollingsworth men will recognize their soul mates at first touch, Jack’s always been resigned to the fact that she’s not his. But when she starts sensing desires that are decidedly not dessert-related, it’ll take all of her magic to set things right with customers and make her own desires come true.

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Also, LOVE AND CUPCAKES is a steal at only .99 cents!!! Give yourself a treat this Valentine's Day. ;)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Started a New Thing

Writing in the morning! I was cooking supper the other night and thinking about how I've not been doing well with revisions here lately. My old routine (writing at night) just wasn't working for me lately. And I knew if I didn't do something, this revision was going to stretch into the summer months, and then I'd feel anxious and miserable and like a failure. 

B/c everyone else is writing 5.5 stories every week! {Nevermind that isn't possible-- it's what it feels like.}
When I first started writing, I did a lot of it in the morning. Writing was new and exciting and I was intoxicated by my story world that I was sure was going to be the next. biggest. thing! {blows raspberries @ younger, clueless self} But the morning writing slowly petered out. Especially after having the kidlet, as sleep became more precious than gold. 

But I decided for the sake of not feeling anxious and miserable and like a failure, to start writing in the a.m again. I have done it for two mornings in a row now. I get up, make a cup of hot tea, and actually sit at my desk. *gasp* It's nice. I have my white lights on, my inspiration board in front of me, and my fuzzy slippers on. I feel this new routine will work particularly well for me, too, as if the day goes to the crapper with work stress/kid stress/daily life stress, and I don't get in any writing that night, then no harm, no foul! I'll have already wrote that day. 

I don't know if I'll keep this up indefinitely {I do like my sleep...} but I plan on doing so at least until I finish this major round of revisions {which includes printing out my ms in hard copy and editing it}. So there ya go, a new thing.

And in other news...

Charlie Holmberg will be starting a contest Feb. 16th, and there are some pretty sweet prizes. If you're artistically inclined with paper, you might consider entering. 

This Saturday I'll be discussing Susan Crispell's book, LOVE AND CUPCAKES, with her. Here's a tasty graphic to wet your appetite...


Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Love Affair with Regency Romance

It's February, the month of love and chocolate (and flowers and teddy bears and cards). Romance is in the air! Which brings romance books to mind. And when romance books comes to mind, then Marion Chesney comes to my mind.

I love her books. You've heard me mention her before, as she's one of my fav authors. I first discovered her as a kid at the public library. I liked the pencil-sketched covers and upon reading them, fell in love with the Regency era. The lords and ladies, dukes and earls, the dresses and bonnets, balls and routs, townhouses and carriages-- I was enthralled by it all. I eagerly devoured all her books I could find, which at my small library, wasn't alot. So I went to a neighboring library where the selection was bigger.

I tore through these six-book series: The Daughters of Mannerling, The Traveling Matchmaker, The Poor Relation, School for Manners, The Six Sisters, & A House for the Season. 

I'm slowly building my own collection of these books.

{18 total, minus the six books of the School for Manners that are currently loaned out.}

Used, of course, as some of the new first edition ones online go for 500+. I like getting them used, as most of them are ex-library books and feel so familiar in hand. Plus, you never know what stickers or writing might be on them. 'Tis like a treasure hunt! I can't tell you how many times I've reread these books. I turn to them when I want to feel at home, or comforted. I turn to them when I'm going through a reading slump and want to read something that I know I'll enjoy. As in, the types of reads that have me sneaking snatches in between making supper.

If you haven't read Marion Chesney, totally give her a try! Her books are quick reads, full of droll humor and cultural tidbits of the Regency era. Like a young miss should never sit on a chair that is still warm from a gentleman's bottom-- that's a no-no! And there's always a HEA (happily ever after). Unless you're the bad guy-- they always get their just reward in Chesney's books.

Also, fun fact: My main character in my short story, The Mad Scientist's Daughter (coming June 2015) is named Viala. Viala Chesney. Yes, I'm a fan.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Author Stop: Angela V. Cook

Angela's stopped by today and answered a few questions for us! And don't you just love this cover? The shattered heart really pops, and the expression on the girl's face draws me in. It's like she has a secret... 

1. What six words would best describe your book?

Hmm… I’d have to say dark, dangerous, sexy, thrilling, romantic, and... feisty (mainly because I just really like the word “feisty”).

2. When you got the news your book would be published, what did you do to celebrate?

I wish I had some awesome story about champagne and a five-star dinner, but actually, it was more like pizza and sparkling grape juice. Literally. I received the offer on New Year's Eve, 2013, and since my husband was recovering from major back surgery, that’s how we spent the evening. Despite the sub-par celebration, it was still one of the happiest days of my life. I’d been through so much with this book (queried it to an inch of its life, got an agent, went on sub with it, left my agent, blah, blah, blah), and to know it was FINALLY going to have its day in the sun made me feel over-the-moon, couldn't-stop-smiling ecstatic.

3. Create a cupcake! What would it be called, and what would be the flavors?

One of my favorite desserts is lemon meringue pie, so what could be better than a lemon meringue cupcake? The cake itself would be white, and of course there would have to be lemon filling in the middle. Top that with a meringue-ish frosting and voila! I would call it Lemazing (I know… I suck at naming things).

4. What are you working on now that you're most excited about?

I have two other manuscripts that I wrote after INTO A MILLION PIECES, but those are on hold right now, because I’m writing a sequel to IAMP that I’m really, really, REALLY excited about. A sequel wasn’t necessary, and I even debated whether or not to write one (the book could stand alone as is), but I just don’t feel like Allison’s story is over. I have questions I want answered, and to be honest, writing about a teenage succubus is fun and exciting! I really enjoyed writing IAMP, and I feel that same excitement as I continue Allison’s story.

5. What is a fav line(s) from IAMP?

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for the lines that make my toes tingle and my cheeks heat up. Here is one of my favorites:

“With a mere inch or two between our lips, I turned my head, evading the kiss I wanted more than anything else at that moment. Ren rested his forehead against mine in quiet frustration, his warm, sweet breath tickling my lips each time he exhaled.”

* * * 

Oh, I love when foreheads touch, so romantic. It's like a face kiss without lips. =) And I think Lemazing is a great name for a lemon cupcake! And lovely readers, there is a $5 Amazon gift card up for grabs, going to one lucky commenter. Please do remember to follow Angela at one or more of her social media links, thanks! {Winner will be announced via comments on 2/5}

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Angela V. Cook lives a very unexciting, but never boring, life with her husband and two children just outside of Detroit. Like most writers, she’s been making up stories for as long as she can remember and can’t imagine a life that doesn’t involve creating worlds.

Angela loves to write novels for teens because it’s the best outlet for her sarcastic personality, immature sense of humor, and love of romantic firsts. Her idea of the perfect day involves a quiet house, a good book, and a piece of cheesecake. Or two. 

* * *

Allison McKready is a succubus. So is her twin sister. But while Allison spends her summer break hiding in the library behind her Goth makeup, Jade fools around as often as she can. Allison can’t believe Jade would ignore their mother’s fatal example so recklessly, but concealing a cursed bloodline and its dangerous effects is far from Allison’s only problem. Mean girl Julie’s snob mob is determined to ruin her summer, and Aunt Sarah’s Bible thumping is getting louder. Only her new friend, Ren Fisher, offers safe haven from the chaos of her life.

When one of Jade’s risky dates leads to humiliation and sudden tragedy, Allison reels, and Ren catches her. But as her feelings for him grow, so does her fear that she’ll hurt him—or worse—in an unguarded moment. The choice is coming—love him or save him—but Allison might not live to make it. One way or another, the curse will have its due.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cover Reveal: SOULSPARK

Today I'm happy to help reveal the cover of Eliza Tilton's newest book, SOULSPARK!

SOULSPARK is YA Contemporary Romance sure to rip open your heart and stitch it back together.


Dealing with the loss of her mother, seventeen-year-old Jessica Stone tries to find an escape from the pain by secretly medicating herself with Xanax, but the anxiety increases, crushing her and her grades.

Then she meets Caleb Jonas, the pastor’s son at her mother’s church. Between his cute dimples and love of fast cars, Jessica is completely smitten, and the feeling is mutual. But dating a Christian boy isn’t easy. He doesn’t party, and he never goes past first base. Jessica struggles with his faith, since it makes her question her own, but for the first time since her mother’s death, she can breathe. Life is finally shifting into a state of happiness.

But that happiness shatters when Jessica catches Caleb kissing her ex-best friend—and step-brother’s girlfriend—Rachel, the girl who used to be like her sister, and the same girl who betrayed her once before.

While her stepbrother hints at a deeper connection between the two, Caleb insists it was a one-time mistake and begs forgiveness. With contradicting stories coming at her, Jessica isn’t sure who to believe, but sometimes the truth is better left undiscovered and she’s about to find out why.


SOULSPARK is scheduled to release this spring!

Author Bio:

Author pic 1

Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull. Her YA Fantasy series, The Daath Chronicles, is published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Author links:

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